Another clear mid-weeknight

Sigh. I was working till a little after one tonight, so when I finished I too a look outside. The sky was still around 17.97 on the SQM, much the same as this morning, but the transparency was apparently slightly better – I had more success in picking out individual stars in the Pleiades, seeing three or four. Orion was just rising, but it was tough to make much out through the murk. In any case, I have to work tomorrow, so I came back inside the house.

A string of clear nights in midweek bodes ill for the weekend – most weather systems stick around only three or four days, so by the time the weekend rolls around the clear skies will probably have been supplanted by clouds. Still, I can always hope.

Looking forward to November

November 8 is the date for the next transit of Mercury (there’ll be no more for Mercury till 2016). I’m planning to go down to my daughter’s place in California where the transit will be visible from start to finish (in progress at sunset here at ChaosCottage North). I haven’t tried taking anything along with me on a flight, so planning is a bit wobbly at the moment. I’ll have to take the PST and probably the Orion Express, but I don’t have a mount I can ship. Suggestions welcome….

Seeing stars at last

While it was a work night the sight of stars after many weeks without was something of a tonic. It’s been depressing that for some time the cloud cover or transparency has always combined so that stars have not been visible at all. Not that this was a really great night, though the SQM reading of 17.97 was good for the location, but at best we had zenithal magnitude limits of about 3.5 around 5.15 am (based on the visibility of only two stars in the Pleiades by direct vision, and that with difficulty). It was too late to open up the observatory, but I pulled out an old pair of 7×50 binoculars to see how they would perform. Alas, my eyes have deteriorated enough so that I couldn’t achieve focus with the fixed eyepiece, so I had to content myself with manipulating the other eyepiece so that I could check out Saturn – high enough for imaging, I think – and Orion. I think I need to find a decent pair of binos, perhaps on the used market, something good enough to mount on at least a photo tripod.

I gave myself 15 minutes before coming in to get ready for work–better than no observing at all. Predictions for tonight are similar to this morning’s so I’m hopeful that there will be a point to rolling off the roof, despite the skyglow in the first part of the evening.


Last night I was at a dinner hosted by my financial consultant. Mike Duffy gave a brief talk about reporting on the political beat in Ottawa. I don’t know if it was derivative or not, but he caused an extended chuckle when, asked how Stephen Harper was doing as Prime Minister, he cracked back “Harper is doing the work of three men — Curly, Larry, and Moe.”

A note on times

I modified the site theme to show post times for each blog. A few minutes ago I noticed that the post time for my most recent post was an hour off – Standard Time as opposed to Daylight Savings Time. Adjusting the time to what I thought it should be resulted in the post disappearing — presumably to appear later when the time seen by WordPress is greater than the time shown on the entry. It’s not a major problem, but it is somewhat surprising. I’m not about to dig into the bowels of the software (I started to on another matter, but decided to leave well enough alone), so it simply becomes a feature for me to keep in mind.

One of those nights

I had hoped that tonight would be ‘one of those nights’ — you know, the kind where the sky is cloudless, transparency is excellent, and even the waning gibbous moon can’t sully the experience. After all, the Clear Sky Clock was predicting exactly that kind of weather.

Alas, what I wound up with was ‘one of those nights’ — the kind where you can see a myriad sucker holes, none of them good enough or open long enough to see anything at all. When I aimed my Sky Quality Meter at the sky, I got a reading of 16.03 straight up, 16.43 if I aimed at the largest sucker hole, and 15.60 if I allowed the sensor to catch a hint of the moon. Maybe others can get something out of these conditions, but for me it simply said ‘unusable.’

Looking at the map on which the Clear Sky Clock predictions are based, I see that my location is on the edge of a band of clouds covering Lake Ontario. A very slight mismatch in the location of that edge puts the clouds right over me. My best hope is that the edge moves a few kilometres south – but the animated view suggests that this won’t happen until later in the day – long after sunrise. Still, hope springs eternal….

Hope may spring, but doesn’t always have a good landing. Around 1.30 am – EDT! – I decided to call it a night.

Hard headed!

A few minutes ago it started to rain — and my bathroom windows were open. I ran into the bathroom to close the windows (perhaps you can see this coming). Rainwater + tile floor + stockinged feet = Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! I hit a puddle, my feet shot out from under me, and I landed on my back (and head) hard enough to crack the tiles. Wow! It was, to say the least, very intense for a second or two, particularly as I also started a nosebleed.

After the cleanup and after the rain had stopped I went over — slowly! — to check on the observatory. Luckily, that was still dry, with no more than a minor spray through the air vent on one side. According to the rain gauge we had two bursts of rain for a total of just under 9 mm, with 5 mm of rain in a five minute period – intense, but luckily not overwhelming. Now, if only my immense intense headache would go away….as I’m afraid the percussion has caused the discussion of a concussion to intrude — how rude! — in this transmission sans permission (so it’s out!). My decision on excision is conclusive not discursive so I pensively (defensively) dispense an ending (hope I’m mending) to this rendering — I’m done!